For a while now, Amber Bain (aka The Japanese House) has been Dirty Hit‘s best-kept secret, albeit one that wasn’t that well-hidden. Away from the label’s larger names like The 1975 and Wolf Alice, Bain is very much an individual creator, writing glitchy, electro-pop numbers across a series of EPs that brought her plenty of attention, and rightly so.
With each release, her sound grew and expanded from techno-folk to a unique form of digital pop, without ever losing her originality nor appeal. After a four year long wait, Bain‘s first full-length album, ‘Good At Falling’, is finally here, and in true The Japanese House style, it’s glorious.
‘Good At Falling’ is Bain at her most open, emotional, and personal that we’ve ever seen her. Across thirteen angelically dreamy songs, she tells her story of heartbreak, loss, and the realisation that everything will be okay, that life goes on, and that’s alright. Whether it’s a nihilistic questioning (“Now tell me something / Is there a point to this?”), facing the realities of love in an age of fast-culture (“There’s so much pressure not to be alone”), a fading romance (“We don’t fuck anymore / But we talk all the time so it’s fine”), or braving an inevitable break up (“Nothing feels good / I can’t fix it / It’s not right”), the record bares scars throughout. Once a figure to hide from the limelight in a pursuit to just focus on the music, Bain now lifts the shutters up for all to see.
The delicate balance between melancholic, self-conscious lyricism which floats effortlessly across spacious and decorated synth-coated melodies is exploited so effectively here. On the surface, lyrics are mournful of a lost love, yet songs like ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’, ‘We Talk All The Time’, ‘Lilo’, and ‘You Seem So Happy’ take such topics and translate them into an orchestra of beautiful, almost uplifting lullabies. Tracks like these show Bain‘s progression; the fluffy cloud quality remains, but lined with a new found ability to demonstrate memorable choruses and too.
It’s a masterclass in sonic production, a consistent feature of any The Japanese House release, as colourful harmonies push Bain‘s soft vocals to the front, as a plethora of contrasting sounds and instruments make appearances across the record – each song feels distinctly different yet one in the same.
‘Good At Falling’ is a stunning debut album for The Japanese House, a tranquil lucid dream, that continues to surprise, and displays Bain‘s ingenuity throughout.